The Natural Step kicks off in the UK

The Natural Step (TNS), a Swedish initiative pioneered ten years ago by Karl-Henrik Robert, has been launched in the UK, licensed by sustainability advocates, Forum for the Future.


TNS claims to offer the first scientifically rigorous systems-based approach to running an organisation in an economically sustainable, socially sustainable (providing employment, services and benefits for customers and communities, and adding value to society) and environmentally sustainable way (reducing pollution to zero and not taking more from nature than can be restored by natural cycles).

The principle aim of TNS UK is to deepen the commitment to genuinely sustainable development throughout UK society, through the use of TNS educational and consultancy materials. The Natural Step UK has, for the past 12-18 months, been concentrating on working with a group of nine ‘pathfinder’ organisations. Air BP, DuPont, Interface, Papercom Europe, Sainsbury’s, Tarmac Contract Housing, Tarmac Special Projects, The Co-operative Bank and Yorkshire Water have all been testing the approach in order to establish a learning and development programme applicable to all levels of an organisation.

For example, Tarmac Contract Housing, as part of an ambitious programme with TNS to promote and implement sustainability within Tarmac plc as a whole, has embarked upon a social housing building programme at the Ravenscliffe Estate in Bradford, with plans for an innovative ‘green village’ of 64 dwellings to house 299 people.

George Martin, director of environment for Tarmac Construction Services, outlined some of the benefits: “The overwhelming conclusion by all those involved in the TNS Learning Workshops is that the heightened awareness and understanding of sustainable development has stimulated new business thinking and brought about an impetus for healthy change in the way social housing is approached”

Based on the results of the Pathfinder projects so far, TNS now hopes to involve more businesses as well as other sectors. TNS chief executive, David Cook, commented: “We have chosen to start our work with the corporate sector as that is where major decisions are made. We believe that the learning process will provide real strength as we apply the model to the public sector, communities, education and elsewhere.

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